Sunday, January 12, 2014

Zoysia Japonica in Central Texas

A number of years ago, my next door neighbor (who had never spent much on water for his lawn nor had any good will towards his fellow man) abruptly decided to sell his house. His side yard had been bare dirt with just a smattering of Bermuda grass. Suddenly, there was thick grass sprouting up where it'd been bare dirt before. After a while, I could see that it was an unusual kind of grass. And, at first, it looked a lot like the Zoysia sod that another neighbor down the street had laid down.

A year later, the neighbor was ten months gone when I spotted Zoysia sprouting up in my yard where I'd filled in a low spot in my front yard with top soil. It has now been several years since and it has now spread to other parts of my yard where shade had thinned my carpet grass. My former neighbor had planted Zoysia japonica by seed and it was now spreading itself around. [On-line it says that the only kind of Zoysia that spreads by seed is Zoysia japonica. The other neighbor must have installed Zoysia that spread only vegetatively because it never shows any seed heads and looks significantly different than what's invaded my yard.]

Note: At this point in time, I'm now beginning to rather like the Zoysia japonica. I have observed that it takes a lot less water than St. Augustine (but only a bit more than Bermuda grass). It tolerates both shade and full sun. These three grasses are now battling it out in my front yard. Each has a portion of the yard that each is best suited for -- but the Zoysia will be the eventual victor in another twenty years (from the looks of it).

Note: The Japonica only spreads by seed to where there is bare dirt. Where it is established, it sends out runners. My other next door neighbor has good solid St. Augustine sod and there's been no encroachment at all (there's a driveway between our two yards).
He also has high water bills / mine is diminishing due to the Zoysia japonica.

Note: I only water by hand late in the evening. By experimenting, I've found that the Zoysia japonica comes back fast from water neglect -- but the St. Augustine does not. The 2011 summer (drought and high temperatures) further proved that only the Bermuda grass and the Zoysia japonica can be considered durable with low watering levels.

Note: The Zoysia is also more tolerant of fallen Live Oak leaves than the St. Augustine.

The only thing I do not know is the variety of Zoysia japonica that my first neighbor used. On-line, it says there are four varieties and that they are all strains of Meyer Zoysia.
So, if you're looking to replicate this, talk to a grass specialist first. Also, talk to your neighbors. I myself would rather have had a choice in the matter. [This stuff is tough stuff. Whether or not that is good or not depends on your situation.]